I had lunch with my old dance teacher and a couple of dance friends on Saturday. We–of course–talked about dance and where we were and what she was up to. She told us of some former students of hers who are now at companies, and some of the students she has now that are absolutely new to dance and how different it is for them. The contrast was immense.
One of my friends brought up the “rivalry” between our studio and another studio (we tend to be rivals with all the other studios? I don’t know.) and how my friend had noticed an atmosphere difference. She described the girls as “snooty” whereas at our new studio, they were warmer.
Jilissa pointed out that the girls who may come across as snooty could actually just be very focused. Many dancers can come off that way, solely because they are so determined to do their best and work their hardest. It’s all about them, not because they’re selfish, but because it takes so much work on yourself to improve.
My new dance teacher touched on the rivalry last night after we received a letter expressing frustration with our dancers and how they disrespected the other studio. Turned into a life like episode of Dance Moms, in turn just a bunch of misinterpretation and assumptions. (An adult even yelled at one of our Clara’s, who is seriously the sweetest thing in the world. And like, 12. Who does that?)
During rehearsal yesterday, we had a challenging warm up. The teacher who was leading it is the teacher from the advanced class, and he just says it once through and you do it. Most dancers got shook up by this, especially if they weren’t used to it, or new to it entirely. But Brian doesn’t mess around, and even though it was a bit challenging, I loved it. It would take some getting used to, but I loved it.
But I liked being with all (most all) of the company dancers. I seriously have visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head. I want to work hard and be like that one day. These girls are absolutely beautiful dancers and captivating to watch. I loved being among them. Sometimes about being surrounded by someone better than you makes you strive to be better. I appreciated that.
On the same thought, it made me realize how lax so many people are. Maybe I have a different view coming at this from being older, but some of them just seem to take it for granted. They have this studio full of amazing teachers imparting such wisdom into them, yet they show disrespect, and talk about pointless stuff, and don’t pay attention and waste time. The ones who improve? The ones who become the advanced dancers? The ones who go on to become bigger and better dancers as whole? The ones who pay attention.
You can see it in the Clara’s. Anyone can want to be a Clara, but you have to work for it. Want isn’t enough. You have to strive.
Dictionary.com defines the following
to feel a need or desire for; wish for
To exert oneself vigorously; try hard
See the difference? Those Clara’s work hard–and they have to. All the choreography they do, all the roles they play, all the rehearsals they have to attend. You have to be sharp and pay attention. You have to try hard.
Sure, you’ll still advance if you just dance during class. You’ll get better with time. But if you really work hard at it, you’ll be that much better that much quicker.
It’s the difference between someone going struggling to keep up, and someone who actually dances their part. The difference between seeing the fear, panic, and thought process on their face, and seeing the character.
The audience typically doesn’t know how difficult it is. It’s our job to make ballet look easy. That’s the beauty of it. To take the pain away from the viewer, to feel light as air.
You may not have the rest of your life to dance. You might not do this after you graduate. Sure, you miss some social things or whatever. Ballet is sacrifice. And honestly, the work you put into it won’t let you down. People let you down, heck your own body might even let you down, but hard work won’t. Not in something like this.
Saturday’s rehearsal was a little different.
We’ve gotten to the part of the rehearsal season where we know the dance and mainly just need to work out all the kinks. Ms. Munro wasn’t there, so we had Ms Alex running it with us, as well as some of the company members (I’m assuming?) Helping out, one of whom I didn’t know.
We ran it through the first time, and Ms. Alex comes over to us and tells us individual critiques, “You need to make sure your knee is straight when you pique on to it. You need to make sure that your feet are pointed. Oh, they’re flexed during that part? Okay, then that’s good. Everyone flex your feet on that ending jump. And you,” she looked at me, “You were the only one who smiled the entire time. You all need to do that, too, make sure you don’t forget your face!” Building up to the moment where she’s going around and looking and different girls and giving corrections, I found myself nervous. Then to get a praise instead of a correction, I was taken back. I found myself thinking that surely there was a time I wasn’t smiling, especially since I don’t remember thinking about it the whole time. Sure, there are times I remember, but not all the time. I guess this is when my awkward smiling-all-the-time-no-matter-what thing comes in handy. (Times it doesn’t come in handy: when you’re getting a ticket and they take a picture of you that you know nothing about and when you try to fight it the prosecutor is confused as to why you look so happy to be pulled over.) Stupid defense mechanism… Maybe all my theater training is finally coming in handy.
We ran it a few more times and Ms. Alex pointed out the different things that needed cleaning up, which made me really happy, because that is what really bothers me most as an audience member. As we went on, she complimented me and my partner Summer quite often, which made us feel really good. She even used us as an example of how it was supposed to be done. Yep, we were freaking out internally and to each other.
Overall, I’m really proud of the girls. They’ve done amazing and have really grown in their skill and musicality. It’s a good season.
While they rehearsed the lead Chinese, I took a couple pictures. (Since I had a photo shoot before and had my camera.)
Yesterday I left rehearsal feeling better than I did going in.
During rehearsal yesterday, we got to watch the tail end of the Mirliton rehearsal before us.
One of my friends from my old studio was cast in this role, and I was absolutely beaming with pride at how she is taking on these roles and thriving. Like, seriously, I’m beyond proud.
So anyway, I was watching them rehearse, and it seemed like Ms. Munro was only getting onto Annika. Granted, most of these girls have danced this role for years and years and years, and this is Annika’s first time, so the poor girl has had her work cut out for her. But she takes the correction, and runs with it, and thrives, and *tears* so proud.
And the fact that she just turned 15 last week and new to this studio and already dancing soloist roles and keeping up with these girls that have done these roles for years blows my mind.
I had this thought process while watching Ms Munro correct her:
“You got this, Annika. Don’t let it bother you. She picks on the ones that show promise.”
Because, see, the other girls weren’t perfect either. But she kept correcting Annika. Whether it is because she knows the other girls temperaments, (they’re the ones late for class every week) or something else, she kept correcting Annika until she was perfect.
Because when she corrects her, she takes it, and does it.
Because she knows it’ll make her a better dancer.
Because she knows she’ll rise out of the sting of the correction and be better.
And it’s like life.
It seems that all the best people have the most junk thrown at them.
It seems like the people who just couldn’t care less are the ones doing alright.
Life picks on the ones that show promise.
Hold on, there, little Mirliton.
You’ll be better for all this.
The greatest thing a teach can shout at you in class after, “Good” “Great” or “Yes”
I’ve been putting off writing an update because, honestly, I don’t have anything flowery or happy to say right now.
I tried yesterday, but that just led to this update window being up for 6 hours before I finally closed it, knowing nothing was going to be posted that day.
I’ve been having a difficult time in my life; mentally, emotionally, physically.
And I know it won’t last forever, and I know I’ll be fine eventually, but right now I’m not. And it’s something I just have to get through. But I used to have this horrible habit of bottling things up and ignoring them until they exploded, or I did something I shouldn’t do, or whatever, and I can’t do that anymore. Instead I have to go through the unpleasant process of actually letting myself feel things. And it sucks. And it can be dark. and I don’t typically like taking people there with me. But it’s part of the process, and this is my story, so whatever. I can’t be any different than who I am. I can strive to be better, which is what I am doing, but I must remember that I am still human.
I will never not be human.
And I’ve been struggling heavily with appearance lately. And the hardest part is that I am extremely limited as to what positive action (or action at all, really) that I can take with this. This makes it more difficult, because I inevitably don’t have much control over the situation. Not as much as I need, at least.
You see, I haven’t been well since I was 14. And there are all sorts of theories and such as to why. I know part of it was due to the fact that I didn’t really eat for four years, but no doctor is doing anything about it. Surely there has to be some kind of something we can do to help my body? Something? Whatever. (It should be noted that my family practitioner has done everything she can. But she’s limited. Heart of gold, though.) So, I’ve been tested since I was 19 and finally went to the doctor about it all. Fast forward to me now at 26, and I’m better than I was then, but not much. (I am also missing an organ I had back then, so there’s that.)
In all this nonsense, I have found it very difficult to lose weight. The way it has escalated, if I don’t eat enough–which feels like too much–I get really light headed and feel weak and cloudy-brained. Which, of course, isn’t good for ballet. I also get tired really easily, especially if I am not able to get copious amounts of sleep. If I eat the wrong thing, I can feel really nauseous, or like it’s just sitting in my stomach, which makes me feel really lethargic and sluggish. (And is horrible for ballet.) Sometimes I really struggle with being able to use my core at all. Sometimes (most of the time) I get really light headed after doing a back cambre, (thanks for the spelling tips, justanotherbunhead! 🙂 Just wish I could get the accent mark on that e…hmm… ) or a “circle” as we call it. I’ll lose vision for a couple seconds, and won’t really be able to think, yet still have to keep up with the moves so I don’t look lost. When I eat the wrong thing, now I can’t tell if it’s some odd reaction to not having a gallbladder, or something else. Sometimes the only way to keep the feeling away is by continuing to eat. Sometimes I just don’t want to eat anything at all, but I have to. There are all sorts of theories and possibilities, but one stomach specialist (who made me feel like utter and complete ignorant crap) told me, “I don’t know what else to do for you.” The next one agreed with the first and just put me on anxiety medication (It’s what they give diabetics to rewire their brain into thinking that what’s pain isn’t pain.)
Okay. Great. Thanks, jackasses.
So, back at square one. I don’t know what’s wrong, my gallbladder crapped out in the process, and I still feel like crap 97% of the time. I don’t know what normal is anymore, I don’t enjoy food or eating, yet I don’t want to not eat enough and pass out. It sucks, and I’m stuck.
Also, I’m currently living at my parents home, where there isn’t room for me. It’s only temporary, but it should have been finished by now. And there’s nothing I can do to speed up time, so I just have to wait.
This also limits how much I can practice, being that I don’t even have the space to work on splits or do a sit up or anything currently. I really need to work on my pirouette’s for Nutcracker, and I just can’t. And it’s all getting closer and makes me panic.
Not to mention that I really want to improve. I want to get better. But there is literally nothing I can do at home.
And the only way for me to lose weight is to walk. But I haven’t been able to for a while because a. I was injured when the weather was nice and now b. the mosquitoes are either too bad or it’s raining, which causes more mosquitoes because we freakin’ can’t get a cold enough cold front to get rid of them and c. we live in the country, so a gym membership is a joke. And my clothes aren’t fitting and my leos are problematic and they hardly make them big enough for me as it is.
My solutions are seemingly simple but still unattainable.
I still don’t know what’s making me sick, but I can’t try these different remedies since I don’t have any space in the kitchen. It’s gotten to where there are days I just have to go without eating all together (which SUCKS after a long dance day) because no one warned me, mom didn’t cook anything (and didn’t tell me) or cooked something I can’t eat without getting sick. (You must understand that I don’t have space to put anything to plan this out in advance. I can’t eat most “ready-made” things. It really sucks.)
Also, there is no seeming rhyme or reason let alone a patter to what I can and can’t eat, so it’s really difficult to find things.
Needless to say, it’s stressful.
And no one understands the amount of sleep I need, and how important it is, and that I’m not just whining, but this is legit. Because most people can’t even tell I’m sick, they just think I’m lazy if they see anything.
And I feel a lot of pressure to be better than I am. Because I’m freakin’ 26, and I’ve “been on pointe” for a year, even though I just got the right shoes, which have been causing blisters so I still have a ways to go to figure all of that out. So I feel extremely behind, and I really just want to be better.
And then I have people saying, “they know you’re only dancing for like, a minute, right? I don’t want them to be disappointed, paying all that money and you’re not dancing for very long” whenever I excitedly sell another ticket to a friend who wants to see me. Which makes me want to be better at the minute I am on stage, so no one is disappointed, or I don’t make a fool of myself on stage. Because I should be better. It shouldn’t hurt this badly. Gah, keep it together, Emilee.
And then people asking if I get to wear a tutu and be like a real ballerina, and seeing their faces drop as I have to explain, “It’s more of a character part” and make it sound as good as possible so they won’t be disappointed that I’m only there a short time in second act. And I don’t want people to come and see me and have it in their mind that I’m great only to see me and it seem juvenile or easy. Because it’s not. Not for me.
And then I have freaking friends die, and people complaining to me about how mentally and physically drained they are, and I have no empathy. And other people who are so happy and I want to be happy with them, but inside I’m really very sad. And feeling rather hopeless. And I know it’ll get better, but it’s not yet, and that’s probably the worst thing, because I feel like an idiot or like I’m weak for feeling these things.
So, moral of the post.
If you find yourself rowing a similar boat.
You’re not weak
You’re not hopeless
It will get better, but it’s not yet, and that’s okay
It’s okay to feel these things
You are human, after all.
Leave yourself room to be human.
Days will come when everything is perfect. Fight for those days.
But when they aren’t here, that’s okay too.